Spanakopita is a Greek spinach & feta cheese filo pie sometimes with pine nuts & raisins added. I wanted to give it a Christmas twist so it could be a stunning vegetarian Christmas dinner option. The chestnuts and dried cranberries (craisins) were calling me and made perfect seasonal replacements for the pine nuts & raisins.
The chestnuts were a gift from our friends Andrew & Rafa who invited us to dinner on Sunday evening. They have a beautiful country house just outside a small village called Guaro which is about 20 minutes from where we live. Andrew has been following my blog and wanted to try cooking one of my recipes while I was there to supervise him (He is not a confident cook!)
This is pool area and the views are 360 degrees- stunning ..
The house has a really cosy feel to it and there was roaring fire burning in the fireplace when we arrived to take away the chill of that fresh mountain air.
They made us feel so welcome and the place was so comfortable that I really did not want to move from the sofa to the kitchen, but I did, occasionally!!
Andrew chose to cook my recipe for Caramelized Shallot & Goat’s Cheese Tarte Tatin which turned out really well, it’s a bit nerve-wracking watching someone else cook from your recipe, too much responsibility!!
We had some puff pastry left over so we made some Parmesan Cheese Straws as well which were a great aperitivo with a glass of cava. They are really easy to make you just cut the puff pastry into thin strips, sprinkle with grated parmesan, hold both ends of a strip and twist one end towards you and the other end away from you. Sprinkle with a bit more parmesan and bake for about 10 -15 minutes at 200 degrees.
We had a wonderful evening and this was where we enjoyed our breakfast on the terrace with that amazing view….
This stunning country cottage is available for holiday rentals and I would thoroughly recommend it, the attention to detail is second to none. For more information see Andrew’s blog at www.andaluciadiary.com which is an insider’s guide to Andalucia and beyond with really great information about where to stay, where to eat and what to do.
Anyway, back to the Christmas Spanakopita. The inspiration came from the chestnuts Andrew & Rafa gave us as we were leaving.
I have been thinking about a vegetarian christmas option for a while but nothing has excited me until this. It has all of my favourite things, feta, spinach, fresh herbs and the addition of the chestnuts & cranberries makes it really special. The good thing about this dish is that you can make a big baking dish size pie and even if there is only one vegetarian to serve it is even more delicious cold which means you can serve it for an evening buffet or as part of your Boxing Day lunch.
Chestnut & Cranberry Spanakopita Recipe
- 1 packet of filo pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- a bag of fresh spinach (about 350 gr)
- a knob of butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 tsp dried mint
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp)
- a pinch of dried chilli flakes
- 50 gr dried cranberries
- 75 gr peeled chestnuts chopped
- 3 large eggs beaten
- about 75 ml cream
- 120 gr feta cheese crumbled
- 120 gr grated cheese (parmesan, manchego or cheddar or a mixture)
Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, fry the onion until translucent, add the garlic, cook for 2 minutes then add the spinach. Stir and cover with a lid, leave to wilt for about 2 minutes stirring occasionally. When the spinach has wilted tip away any water then add the herbs and spices salt & pepper, stir to combine and leave to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Mix together the beaten eggs, cream and cheeses in a large bowl. Then add the wilted spinach (minus any liquid), cranberries and chopped chestnuts and stir well until combined.
Line a rectangular baking tin/dish about the same size as the filo pastry sheets with some baking paper. Then layer 3 or 4 sheets of filo in the baking dish, brushing each sheet with a little oil. Pour the mixture onto the pastry and spread it out evenly. Cover with the remaining sheets of filo (5 or 6) tucking it down the sides if necessary and brushing each sheet with olive oil.
Brush the top sheet with olive oil, sprinkle with a little water and bake for 40 – 50 minutes until browned.
Serve, cut into squares or wedges, with all the Christmas trimmings or just with some boiled new potatoes in minted butter. (Remember to remove the baking paper from the bottom!)
Leave the rest to cool and serve slices as part of a buffet. This is one of those vegetarian dishes that everyone is going to wish they had, so it is always good to have some left over…..